Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

Antioch High grad, Pittsburg native and Brentwood college student in running for scholarship

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

One of seven Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s 459 semifinalists from Contra Costa County for highly competitive undergraduate transfer scholarship

Other college scholarship programs offered for middle, high school students

By Julia Florence

Lansdowne, Virginia – On March 9, 2023, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced 459 semifinalists for the highly competitive Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Brentwood resident Ryan Mattson, in his last semester at Sacramento City College and was selected as the only representative of the Los Rios Community College District to be named a semifinalist.

The native who grew up in Pittsburg, CA and is a 2006 graduate of Antioch High School is one of seven semifinalists in Contra Costa County. The six other community college students named semifinalists are Eliette Bustos Barocio and Hosna Ramzi from Los Medanos College and Ivan Hernandez, Jessica Kim, Karla Morales De Leon and Mayari Lanz Amezcua from Diablo Valley College.

The Foundation awards community college students who have demonstrated exceptional academic ability, leadership, service and a determination to complete their bachelor’s degrees at top four-year institutions.

“I was accepted into Columbia University in New York City and await confirmation or denial from Stanford, Yale and UC Berkeley,” Mattson shared.

He plans to study political science and history but has not finalized his major at Columbia.

Mattson has worked in the trades, specifically automotive repair and maintenance at Winter Chevrolet in Pittsburg and has a 15-year-old son who attends Liberty High in Brentwood.

“I believe the reason for my singularity comes from students not being informed of this scholarship opportunity,” he said. “If the community knew age did not matter and scholarships were available to the determined, I believe our community would garner not only the nation’s best minds but also the most driven individuals.”

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,700 applicants and attend 215 community colleges in 38 states. Some of the latest research from the American Talent Initiative estimates that roughly 50,000 high-achieving students from low income backgrounds could transfer to four-year colleges each year but don’t, often due to cost. The Cooke Transfer Scholarship is designed to create a clear pathway to a four-year degree by offering up to $55,000 per year along with academic advising and access to a network of peers.

“By lifting the financial burden of pursuing a four-year degree off their shoulders, our goal is to help students take full advantage of a four-year college experience without taking on student debt,” said Seppy Basili, Executive Director of the Cooke Foundation. “This year’s selected semifinalists reflect the deep bench of talent across our community colleges today, and we’re looking forward to getting to know them better in our final application review process.”

The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship offers unparalleled support to community college students. In addition to the generous financial support, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive educational advising from the Foundation’s Deans of Scholar Support to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their future endeavors. They will also have access to opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and the incomparable connection to a robust network of more than 3,000 fellow Cooke Scholars and Alumni.

According to the foundation’s website, scholarship recipients earned a 3.92 average community college GPA, 70% participated in an honors program or pursued honors coursework and 67% held a leadership role in a club or activity. They will be announced in April.

A list of this year’s Cooke Transfer Scholar semifinalists, their respective community colleges and hometowns can be viewed here. To learn more about the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, visit the website here.

Named for and Funded by Canadian-American Businessman

According to Wikipedia, “Jack Kent Cooke was a Canadian-American businessman in broadcasting and professional sports. Starting in sales, Cooke was very successful, eventually becoming a partner in a network of radio stations and newspapers in Canada. Cooke moved to the United States and built a business empire in broadcasting and professional sports franchises. Cooke was the owner of the Washington Redskins (NFL), the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), the Los Angeles Wolves (United Soccer) and Toronto Maple Leafs (IL minor league baseball team). He also developed The Forum in Inglewood, California, and FedExField (named Jack Kent Cooke Stadium when it opened, months after his death) near Landover, Maryland.”

According to the foundation’s website, Cooke was born in Canada in 1912. “As a young man, he was an athlete and musician, with a love for ice hockey, the saxophone, and the clarinet. He dreamed of pursuing a formal education, but that dream was cut short when he left high school during the Great Depression to work full time to help support his family. Nonetheless, Mr. Cooke believed education was a life-long pursuit. He was a passionate student his entire life and was knowledgeable in fields as diverse as literature, music, sports, and architecture. When he died in 1997, Mr. Cooke left the bulk of his fortune to establish the Cooke Foundation and provide remarkable students with the chance to soar.”

More Scholarship Programs for Middle, High School Students

The foundation also offers three other scholarship opportunities. The Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is the largest undergraduate scholarship program available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities. The high school seniors will receive up to $55,000 per year for up to four years to complete a bachelor’s degree. They will also be eligible to apply for the Cooke Graduate Scholarship after graduating with their bachelor’s degree, which is worth up to $150,000.

The Cooke College Scholarship Program is available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities.

This year’s 45 recipients entered the Cooke Young Scholars Program as 8th graders in 2019. As a cohort, they have attended two residential summer programs together. During the summer before 8th grade, Young Scholars spent three weeks at the University of Pennsylvania exploring social and political issues through project-based service-learning and academic study. This past summer, Scholars took part in an inquiry‐based enrichment experience at the University of Connecticut, participating in experiential research projects.

The Cooke Young Scholars Program is a selective five-year, pre-college scholarship for high-performing 7th grade students with financial need. It provides comprehensive academic and college advising, as well as financial support for school, Cooke-sponsored summer programs, internships, and other learning enrichment opportunities.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report. 

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East County: Hold Your Horses evacuation and rescue group to hold new member orientation March 26

Friday, March 3rd, 2023

By Chantel Tieman

Hold Your Horses  Livestock Emergency Evacuation Response Team & Rescue is a local non-profit evacuation team and rescue based out of East Contra Costa County.

We are deployed by operations of emergency services, Calfire and local fire agencies and Animal Services. We not only rescue during disasters but whenever there are calls for neglect and abuse etc. For more information visit orour Facebook page.

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Save the Date: Unity In the Community event in Bay Point June 24

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

Sponsors needed

The Bay Point Community All-N-One will once again be hosting one of our biggest events, “The Unity In The Community” event on Saturday, June 24th, 2023 from 10am – 2pm. This is a Health & Wellness program for the community to be held at the Ambrose Community Center, 3105 Willow Pass Road in Bay Point.

To be a SPONSOR for the Unity in the Community Event please call contact us.

To REGISTER your organization to participate or for a table at the Unity in the Community event, please download and complete the registration form and submit it to us before April 17, 2023. Unity in the Community Table Res

For questions, please call Mr. Delano Johnson at (925) 812-2939, Irving Joe (925) 858-2675 or Lovetta Tugbeh (925) 727-8291.

Please save the date and be on the lookout for more details to come in the near future.


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Thorpe’s remarks at MLK Day breakfast spark response by Oakley Councilman not wanting to provide Antioch with police support

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. File photo. Oakley Councilman George Fuller. Source: Facebook

“Mayor Thorpe was indicating he had placed the yoke of oppression on Antioch’s police officers and implemented what seemed an era of tyranny towards Antioch officers…Mayor Thorpe’s outlandish statements are politically motivated, and I believe he would use an Oakley officer as a pawn to advance his political agenda.” – Councilman George Fuller

Antioch Police Officers respond to Fuller’s remarks, take swipe at Thorpe

“The mayor’s constant attacks against our officers have always been unhelpful” – APD Sgt. & APOA President Rick Hoffman

NAACP President says “nothing inappropriate” about Thorpe’s comments; Antioch resident “embarrassed” by them

By Allen D. Payton

At the end of the Oakley City Council meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 24, 2023, Councilman George Fuller took a swipe at Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe not wanting to have Oakley Police Officers provide support to Antioch Police because of something Thorpe said at the recent MLK Day Breakfast hosted by the NAACP East County Branch. (See 1:50 mark of video)

Fuller spoke about the Antioch City Council and said, “Now, we stay on our side and I’m very happy. But there’s one thing that I’m very, very concerned about, and that is we have a mutual aid agreement with Antioch for our officers to go to the city to assist officers in that location to make arrests, put their lives on the line, and perhaps become involved in a…and I want to discuss what we can do to protect our officers. Because the way it was going was that if something happens over there, Mayor Thorpe is going to be very happy to say ‘well, our officers misbehaved’…and I don’t want to see their careers go up.”

“Our officers are trained. Whatever he says, our officers are trained,” Fuller continued. “I do not want my officers going over there and suddenly finding themselves in trouble.”

Fuller Explains His Concerns About Thorpe’s Remarks

Asked what Thorpe had said at the breakfast that caused his concern, Fuller responded in an email writing, “Before going any further, I need to say that I find the East Contra Costa NAACP a viable organization that has worked extensively, and still does, to create homogeneous communities in East Contra Costa County that are diverse and inclusive. I am completing my membership request to become a member of the association.

I did attend the Martin Luther King, Jr’s prayer breakfast, sponsored by the East Contra Costa NAACP. I received an invite from Odessa LeFrancois, installed as president of the group during the meal. I am grateful that Ms. LeFrancois extended the invitation.

I represented the proclamation that the City Council of Oakley extended honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I did so at the behest of Ms. LeFrancois. The proclamation was the first to honor Dr. King by the City of Oakley City Council. The reception of the proclamation of those attending the breakfast was commendatory.

Mayor Thorpe followed my presentation. Mayor Thorpe’s first words were, ‘Some cities just give proclamations; in Antioch, we do something about it.’ The statement intended to insult Oakley’s proclamation. It was evident in Mayor Thorpe’s mind that the Oakley City Council gives a token acknowledgment of Dr. King’s legacy but fails to address systemic racism in Oakley. Yes, Mayor Thorpe’s rhetoric and hostile discourse are not valid.

Mayor Thorpe said he has solved racism in Antioch by ‘reining in the police’. Mayor Thorpe stated, ‘we have banned certain control holds that the police can use. We deny the police the use of military-grade equipment. We have created a police oversight commission.’ Mayor Thorpe was indicating he had placed the yoke of oppression on Antioch’s police officers and implemented what seemed an era of tyranny towards Antioch officers. Mayor Thorpe said that his efforts have resulted in a fifty percent decrease in murders in Antioch. Antioch residents did not suffer injustices from the police because of his actions.

Mayor Thorpe continued that there were three Black council members on the Antioch City Council. Consequently, Mayor Thorpe could implement his agenda, which favored Black lives in Antioch. Also, those who attempted to recall him from the council would experience consequences for trying to do so. In short, Mayor Thorpe marginalized Antioch Police Officers as a violent, out-of-control, racist organization, and he was protecting Antioch from the police.

Initially, Mayor Thorpe experienced polite applause for his statements. At the end of his lengthy monologue, he received no applause.

My immediate concern was the well-being of Oakley Police Officers. Oakley officers respond to mutual aid requests from the Antioch Police Officers when the Antioch officers confront an emergency that strains their safety resources. Mayor Thorpe’s statements indicate that he would have no qualms demonizing an Oakley officer for responding to a situation where lives were at risk. The threat to the officer, and the officer’s family, would be catastrophic. Mayor Thorpe’s outlandish statements are politically motivated, and I believe he would use an Oakley officer as a pawn to advance his political agenda.

I believe it is incumbent on the Oakley City Council to determine the threat to Oakley officers and take precautionary measures to protect them as they respond to mutual aid requests in Antioch. I am grateful that the Oakley City Council agreed (except perhaps one member who has publicly commented on my statements) to discuss the issue and reconcile any dangers to Oakley officers.

The Oakley Police Department offers extensive training on professional responses to critical safety issues and contains them with the least amount of force necessary to control the situation. The City of Oakley takes a course of providing adequate funding for the police department to be able to deliver professional police services properly. Oakley officers are aware of systemic racism, even in Oakley, and how to respond to such demagoguery ensures the well-being of all members of the Oakley inclusive community.

An example of Oakley’s professionalism occurred the night of January 15, 2023, the night before the NAACP breakfast; officers responded to a man with a gun in Oakley. Upon arrival, the suspect pointed a gun at the officer. The officer retreated, and the Oakley officers contained the area and called for a mental health team to respond to the location. The mental health team responded by convincing the suspect to surrender their weapon. The officers afforded the health services the suspect so urgently required. That is an example of the ‘true grit professional police services’ Oakley officers deliver. I will not allow those services to be ‘trashed’ by Mayor Thorpe.

I do not want to see an Oakley officer end their career by saving the life of an Antioch officer or Antioch resident and suffer a catastrophic tyrannical political outburst from the Mayor of Antioch, Lamar Thorpe.

I previously mentioned that Mayor Thorpe delivered similar statements at the Contra Costa Mayors Association in Hercules on January 5, 2023.

Hopefully, the above answers your request.

With best regards,

George Fuller, MPA, MA”


Antioch Police Officers Respond to Fuller, Take Swipes at Thorpe

In a message to the media on Thursday afternoon, also posted later on the Antioch Police Officers Association Facebook page, President and APD Sergeant Rick Hoffman wrote, “Earlier today, the APOA was solicited for comment regarding an Oakley City Council member requesting that the Oakley Police Department stop sending officers into Antioch after hearing remarks from Mayor Thorpe at an NAACP breakfast. As we said earlier, the idea of neighboring police agencies not assisting each other is deeply troubling. We recognize that crime has no borders and the best way to combat crime and keep the citizens of our cities safe is by everyone, police officer and citizen alike, to work together. APD has always and will continue to work with our neighboring agencies in times of need. We will always answer the call when they ask, and we hope they will do the same.

What we, as a POA, want to further highlight is the unnecessary and disparaging remarks that Mayor Thorpe makes on a routine basis towards the officers of APD. Mayor Thorpe claims that he has outlawed certain control holds and has mandated that our officers act in a certain manner. Not only is the claim that he has outlawed control holds inaccurate at best, but the further claim that his alleged efforts have led to a reduction in Antioch’s murder rate is a slap in the face to the hard work of the men and women of APD. Facing an unprecedented staffing shortage, our officers work diligently to solve these crimes amidst one of the most tumultuous times ever faced by our department. The mayor’s constant attacks against our officers have always been unhelpful but we wish to highlight that his comments are now also dangerous and putting officer’s lives at risk. For his comments to cause other cities to entertain the idea of no longer assisting our department is alarming and we call on the mayor to exercise caution and restraint when speaking about our officers.

We would also like to recognize that we have always had, and plan on continuing, a great working relationship with our neighboring agencies. Specifically, we appreciate the ongoing support we receive from the Oakley, Pittsburg, and Brentwood Police Departments.”


NAACP President Responds

“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Odessa LeFrancois, Antioch resident and recently elected President of the NAACP East County Branch said when reached for comment regarding Thorpe’s remarks. “As far as what I know, Lamar didn’t say anything inappropriate at the breakfast.”

Antioch Resident and Breakfast Attendee “Embarrassed” by Thorpe’s Remarks

Antioch resident Velma Wilson, who also attended the breakfast, disagreed with LeFrancois and confirmed Fuller’s views on Thorpe’s remarks.

“The Oakley Councilmember presented a proclamation of being more active with organizations like the NAACP and spreading the message of Dr. King. The councilman had a service animal with him,” she said. “Thorpe wasn’t on the program. It was toward the end of the meeting. But then he went on this rant about Black people and that although we are in Pittsburg our city is the most of diverse.”

Wilson continued saying Thorpe said, “‘We aren’t just typing up a resolution to sound pretty we’re actually putting into action our work. I’m proud of the work of the three Black council members and we’re not going to stop.’”

“He also said, ‘I know we have a recall proponent in here,’” she said referring to her.

“‘In East County we are the city holding our police officers accountable and we are the council, and I reiterate, a majority Black council that made sure we had body cameras on each of our officers.’” Wilson recalled of Thorpe’s remarks.

“MLK, yes, he fought for civil rights, but for all,” Wilson stated.

“A lot of people were checking out and getting up. He went more on a racial thing,” she continued about Thorpe’s remarks.

“Even (Pittsburg Mayor) Shanelle (Scales-Preston) was ‘how do you say, you’re in Pittsburg, you’re at MLK Junior High on MLK Day, and you say Antioch is the best’?” Wilson stated. “I was embarrassed as an Antioch resident.”“Lamar thought he had an audience that would cheer and clap for that crazy speech. He may have had three people clap for him,” she added.

Thorpe Does Not Respond

The mayor of Antioch was asked via email Wednesday if he had any comment on his remarks at the breakfast, responses to Fuller’s comments and the APOA’s statement and about the mutual aid between the two police departments. But Thorpe did not respond.

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Josh Hill joins BAC Community Bank as Sr. VP

Thursday, December 29th, 2022

Josh Hill

December 29, 2022 – Stockton, Calif – Josh Hill has joined locally-owned BAC Community Bank as Senior Vice President and Retail Banking Officer. Hill is a results-driven financial services professional with more than 28 years of extensive leadership experience.  He has most recently led and grown retail banking teams within the BAC Community Bank footprint and Northern California.

“We are excited to be working with Josh,” said Jackie Verkuyl, Chief Administrative Officer, “the skills and insight he brings complement BAC’s future-focused strategic path.”

Working with other seasoned members of management, Hill is responsible for the overall success of the relationship banker and deposit service specialist teams, as well as leading BAC’s branch operations and ensuring consistent delivery of high-quality customer banking experiences.  He also assists in developing and overseeing retail policies and strategies while working with team members to improve and implement new retail products and services.

Hill holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Financial Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

About BAC Community Bank

BAC Community Bank is California’s 10th oldest state-chartered bank. Established in 1965, BAC operates branch offices throughout San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Contra Costa counties, including a branch in Antioch at 3448 Deer Valley Road, and is identified as “one of the strongest financial institutions in the nation” by BauerFinancial, Inc.

The bank is centrally headquartered in Stockton, California, and is continuously recognized for banking excellence through local awards and banking industry accolades.

BAC Community Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Equal Opportunity Employer. Member FDIC. More information is available online at

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Eight days of Chanukah began Sunday night

Sunday, December 18th, 2022

Rabbi Peretz Goldschmid of Chabad of the Delta leads the audience in singing Chanukah songs following the lighting of the Grand Menorah in Brentwood City Park on the first night of the annual Jewish celebration. Photo by Allen D. Payton

By Allen D. Payton

Known as the Festival of Lights, the annual Jewish celebration of Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Jews regained control of Jerusalem after overthrowing King Antiochus IV Epiphenes of the Seleucid empire.

From “According to the Talmud, one of Judaism’s most central texts, Judah Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Even though there was only enough untainted olive oil to keep the menorah’s candles burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, leaving them time to find a fresh supply.”

Also spelled Hannukah, the celebration begins at sunset on 25 Kislev and ends at sundown on 2 Tevet or 3 Tevet on the Hebrew or Jewish Calendar. It is being celebrated, this year from Sunday, Dec. 18 through Monday, Dec. 26.

Chabad of the Delta has erected several menorahs in East County, including in Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and Discovery Bay. The center and first of eight lights of the Grand Menorah in Brentwood were lit by Rabbi Peretz Goldshmid during a Community Chanukah Festival Sunday evening, Dec. 18.

According to Goldschmid, “The name Antioch originates from Antiochus of the Chanukah story.”

Sunday’s grand menorah lighting by Chabad of the Delta was an amazing show of religious pride.

Hundreds of people turned out to the event which was held at City park. The atmosphere was festive, and the mood was joyous. Rabbi Goldshmid led a brief ceremony and lit the menorah as the crowd sang traditional songs.

The hot cocoa and apple cider were a great way to keep everyone warm, and Arron Smith’s original Chanukah wrap was a great way to get everyone in the spirit of the holiday. Most importantly, the menorah lighting was an amazing sight to behold and an incredible reminder of the joy and importance of coming together as a community.

In attendance at the event were Mayor Joel Bryant, City Manager Tim Ogden, Vice Mayor Susannah Meyer, and City Council Tony Oerlemans and Jovita Mendoza. It was wonderful to see the community come out in the cold to celebrate the holiday together.

The crowd was also treated to the talent of artist Andrew Swartz, who led a collaborative painting project that allowed young and old alike to participate. The masterpiece that was created will be showcased in the Delta Art Gallery at Streets of Brentwood.

the grand finale of fire and sword dancers, led by Aaron Zamarron. Wielding a flaming sword, Zamarron captivated the audience as he performed a spectacular routine set to traditional Chanuka music.

The story of Chanukah is a timeless one, filled with hope and courage in the face of persecution. To this day, the Festival of Lights is still celebrated by so many around the world and brings with it the same spirit of unity and joy. As we light the menorah, let us remember the power of faith and the strength of community. May we continue to find joy in the celebration of Chanukah, and may we always be blessed with good health and prosperity. Happy Chanukah!

To learn more about the history behind and meaning of Hanukkah/Chanukah click, here.

Mashie Goldschmid contributed to this report.


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Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at Golden Hills Community Church Saturday, Dec. 24

Friday, December 16th, 2022

Golden Hills Community Church is located at 2401 Shady Willow Lane in Brentwood.

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Wrong way Richmond driver in fatal Hwy 4 crash released from custody to U.S Marshals

Friday, December 16th, 2022

Richmond suspect driving with suspended license for prior DUI

By CHP Contra Costa

Tuesday morning Dec. 13, 2022, at about 11:05am, CHP Contra Costa was advised of a wrong way driver traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Hwy 4 near Railroad Avenue. The wrong way vehicle (Dodge Durango) continued westbound in the eastbound lanes and collided head on into a Honda Accord traveling in the eastbound lanes of Hwy 4. Following the initial crash, the Honda was struck by a Toyota Highlander and was struck a third time by a three-axel tanker truck that were also traveling eastbound. All involved vehicles sustained major damage and came to rest within the eastbound lanes.

Following the crash, the driver of the Dodge fled the scene on foot but was apprehended by Pittsburg Police Department that came upon the scene shortly after.

The Honda was occupied by one adult driver and one adult passenger. The driver sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene and the passenger was transported to the hospital for major injuries. The Toyota was occupied by one adult driver and one infant passenger. Both occupants were transported to the hospital for complaint of pain injuries. The tanker truck was occupied by an adult driver who was uninjured.

According to a Mercury News report, the Contra Costa Coroner’s Office identified the victim as James Kuang age 50. Attempts to reach the Coroner’s Office to determine the victim’s city of residency were unsuccessful Friday.

CHP Contra Costa PIO Adam Lane said Friday that the wrong way driver is Michael Armstrong age 53 of Richmond was booked on charges of murder, DUI resulting in injury, driving the wrong way resulting in injury or death and driving with a suspended license for a prior DUI.

According to Contra Costa DA’s Office PIO Ted Asregadoo, “the suspect was released from custody from the Martinez Detention Facility on Thursday by the U.S. Marshals because of a federal matter. So, CHP will not be bringing the case to the DA’s office for filing charges, today.”

At this time, it is believed drugs and/or alcohol impairment may have been a factor in this crash. This incident is still under investigation. If anyone witnessed this crash, the wrong way vehicle prior to the crash, or the events leading up to the crash, please contact CHP Contra Costa in Martinez at (925) 646-4980. Thank you.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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